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Zeeland school bus skids off slippery road into ditch


OVERISEL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- A school bus carrying 28 southwestern Michigan students has skidded from a slick roadway into a ditch.

None of the students were injured Friday morning in Allegan County's Overisel Township.

Zeeland Public Schools spokeswoman Ginger Smith says students waited up to 25 minutes for a replacement bus. Their parents were notified.

Overisel Township is southwest of Grand Rapids. The students attend Adams and Lincoln elementary schools and Zeeland Christian Schools.

Michigan's western and southwestern Lower Peninsula was hit by snow this week after a multi-day Upper Peninsula storm. The National Weather Service says up to 5 more inches of snow is expected, especially near Lake Michigan.


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Ottawa Co. jury finds woman guilty in hitman murder case


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The woman who hired a hitman to murder her ex-boyfriend is heading to prison for the rest of her life. Thursday afternoon, a jury convicted Maryann Castorena of several charges, including first-degree murder.

Much anticipation during a six hour deliberation, followed by a powerful decision from the jury, brought little expression, from Maryann Castorena. She quietly closed her eyes and put her head down.

Just a few feet away, friends and family of the victim Jose "Patricio" Hernandez were hugging prosecutors and detectives, but too emotional to go on-camera.

"It's a very satisfying feeling to be able to get justice for Patricio," says Detective Jake Sparks with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department. "This is about Patricio Hernandez, it's not about the defendants."

Closing arguments delivered in Castorena trial


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Attorneys delivered closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of Maryann Castorena, whose accused of hiring a hitman to kill her ex-boyfriend in order to collect on a life insurance policy.

In January 2014, Jose Hernandez was found dead in the snow outside his running car in the parking lot of his Park Township apartment.

Anthony Delagarza has pleaded guilty to killing Hernandez. He's testified that Castorena planned to give him a cut of the life insurance money in return for the murder.

Prosecutors say Castorena stood to collect about $1 million as a beneficiary of Hernandez's life insurance policy. The defense questioned Delagarza's reliability, saying he's changed his story several times in the course of this investigation.

Hitman questioned on stand in Holland murder trial


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- A convicted killer choked up on the stand on Tuesday as he described killing a Park Township man. The defense questioned Anthony Delagarza's credibility as he testified against Maryann Castorena, who's on trial for plotting her ex-boyfriend's murder.

During cross-examination, Castorena's attorney pointed out a series of lies made by Delagarza during the investigation and painted him as someone the jury should not trust.

"You wanted to make yourself look better," the defense attorney said to Delagarza. "I guess in a way, yes," he responded.

Delagarza, who already pleaded guilty to killing Jose Hernandez, testified Castorena was to pay him for doing the job. However, the defense brought attention back to Delagarza and the choices he made the night of the murder.

Delagarza became emotional when asked questions about hitting Hernandez' skull with an iron weapon.

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West Coast Chamber awarded five-star accreditation


HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- The organization representing more than 1,375 businesses in the Holland and Zeeland area is among the country's best of its kind.

The West Coast Chamber of Commerce announced on Monday its been given a five-star accreditation from the United States Chamber of Commerce. The West Coast Chamber says that puts it in the top 1% of chambers nationwide.

"Becoming a 5 Star Chamber - the highest ranking possible - the first time we applied speak volumes about the great work we do for our local businesses each and every day," said Jane Clark, President of the West Coast Chamber. "5 Star Accreditation signifies our Chamber has met the highest benchmarks in all areas of operations, commitment to the business community, communications, and programming. As always, we appreciate the confidence and support of our members, and we share this honor with them."

'Old friends' - the Jimmy Lont story


HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 105 people die every day in the United States from drug overdoses.

In fact, since 2010, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death annually in the U.S., more than death by falling, gun violence or traffic accidents.

This story is about two West Michigan men: one who survived drug abuse, and his close friend who did not.

One of the men will tell his story from beyond his addiction, while the other will tell his from beyond the grave.

Jimmy Lont graduated from Holland Christian High School in 2008. He was one of the best football players ever to wear a Maroons uniform. To this day, Jimmy still holds several records at Holland Christian.

But Jimmy's record-setting football career wasn't completely all his doing; he had some help.

Zeeland West survives to win district crown


ZEELAND, Mich. (WZZM) --Zeeland West survived a major scare from Stevensville-Lakeshore Friday night, but hung on for a 30-28 win in a Division 3 district final.

The top-ranked Dux (11-0) overcame three turnovers and a second-half charge by the Lancers to stay unbeaten.

Zeeland West led 30-14, but Stevensvile-Lakeshore scored back-to-back touchdowns and trimmed the lead to 30-28.

Darius Perisee rushed for 153 yards on only seven carries and scored twice.

The Dux will play Lowell in next week's regional finals.